Five tips to catch more catfish in Wicsonsin

Wisconsin is a beautiful state where the catfish fishing is excellent. The catfish is a unique species with sharp spines in their dorsal and pectoral fins which contain venomous glands. These can cause you a lot of pain if you get stuck by them. This is why you must be careful when removing the hook from a catfish. It’s recommended that you use a hook remover or pair of pliers and a good pair of gloves to reduce your risk of being stuck.

The catfish have whiskers or barbells that closely resemble those of a cat (hence the name) and they are mostly bottom feeders or scavenger fish. In other words, they stay near the bottom of the water and they’ll eat most anything that will fit in their mouth. The barbells are very sensitive and this species uses them to find food, which is why most catfish are attracted to bait with a strong odor.
However, it has also been discovered that the catfish is a predatory fish, which means they’ll strike at anything that invades their territory. As a result, they can be enticed to strike even when they’re not hungry. The catfish have also been known to chase down and steal fast moving bass lures so don’t make the mistake of underestimating this species. They can move when they want to.

The flathead and the channel cat are the two types of catfish found in Wisconsin with the channel cat being the most abundant. Flathead catfish weighing between thirty and forty pounds are not uncommon in this state, which is one of the things that make them so popular. Anglers love the challenge of catching and trying to reel in one of these monsters.

To help you become more productive, here are five tips to catch more catfish in Wisconsin:

1. Live bait such as shad, carp, shiner and chubs are the best baits to use when fishing for the flathead catfish. They will take cut bait every now and then when they’re really hungry but they prefer fresh food. If using live bait to fish for the channel cat, crawfish is the best option. However, stink bait or any type of bait with an odor will attract this species because the channel cat is more of a scavenger fish that will eat most anything.

2. The best time to fish for either species of catfish is after dusk until about midnight. This is when they’re the most active and the easiest to catch. You’ll also want to use a technique that allows you to get the bait down on the bottom where the catfish are more likely to be. Drift fishing will normally yield some excellent results.

3. The catfish is a very strong species that will put up a strong fight once you have them hooked. They will pull and tug on your fishing line and rod until the very end. For this reason, you need good quality gear to prevent losing your catch. It needs to be strong enough to hold up to this struggle without snapping into. A six to eight foot heavy duty graphite rod combined with braided Dacron fishing line is an excellent choice.

4. When fishing for catfish you need to have patience and give the fish time to strike but if you’re not getting any bites within about twenty minutes, it’s time to move to a new location. However, you don’t have to go far. Sometimes, you can move over a few feet and get better results than what you would have if you moved all the way across the lake.

5. Wisconsin channel catfish can be caught during any season with the exception of extremely cold weather. During the middle of winter they seem to go into a semi-hibernation state where they settle down into deep holes and sink down into the muddy bottom of the water. They don’t move around much during this time. The spring and fall are the best times to fish for channel cats in Wisconsin followed by the summer months. The flathead can be caught most anytime but you’ll get the best results when fishing at night.

The catfish is a challenging species but the tips above can help you get more bites each time you go fishing. After fishing a particular lake or river for awhile, you’ll learn a few tricks of your own that will help to improve your fishing skills so you can reel in more fish. After all, practice does make perfect even in fishing.

There are many different lakes and rivers scattered all through Wisconsin where the catfish are plentiful. Some of the most well-known places include Beaver Dam Lake, Lake Winnebago, Lake Geneva, North Twin Lake, Wisconsin River and the Mississippi River. Of course, this is only a small list.

There are many other excellent places in Wisconsin where the catfish fishing is outstanding.


Dan Eggertsen is a fellow catfish fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on catfish fishing since 2004.

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